Holiday - Maternity leave and pay


You still accrue (build up) your usual holiday entitlement while you're on maternity leave. This includes bank holidays.

You cannot take holiday or get holiday pay while on maternity leave. But you can arrange with your employer for you to take it before or after maternity leave.

You should talk with your employer as early as possible to agree how and when to take your holiday entitlement, including any you'll accrue while on maternity leave.

What you need to do when planning maternity leave

When you know you're going to be taking maternity leave, you should agree with your employer:

  • how much holiday entitlement you'll accrue before and during your planned maternity leave
  • if you're going to take your accrued holiday before or after maternity leave
  • how much you can carry over, if appropriate

It might be written in the contract that you get more than statutory holiday entitlement. This can be called 'enhanced' or 'contractual' holiday entitlement. If your employer offers this, you should agree with them whether you can get payment in lieu of taking the days that are additional to statutory entitlement.

When you should take your holiday

It's important to plan as early as possible with your employer when you'll take your holiday entitlement.

Once you and your employer have agreed how and when you'll take your holiday, it's a good idea to ask your employer to put it in writing.

You must take your holiday before or after your maternity leave. This is because you cannot take 2 different types of leave at the same time.

You and your employer can agree to add your holiday to the beginning or end of your maternity leave, so that you get holiday pay for that time.

By law, your employer must allow you to take your statutory holiday entitlement during the holiday year.

Example of planning when to take your holiday entitlement

Your contract gives statutory holiday entitlement of 5.6 weeks.

You're planning to take a year of maternity leave. You meet with your line manager to plan how to take your holiday. Your manager talks through all the options, taking into consideration:

  • how it'll affect your workload and the rest of the team
  • when in the holiday year you'll be going on maternity leave and coming back to work

Your options could be to take:

  • some of your holiday entitlement in the months leading up to your maternity leave and some in the months after you return to work
  • all of your holiday for the year before you start maternity leave
  • some of your holiday before you go on maternity leave and then add some to the end of your maternity leave so you have more time off and get holiday pay instead for that time
  • most of your holiday when you return from maternity leave, and carry some into the next holiday year

Carrying over holiday

You should usually take all your statutory holiday in the holiday year. But if you're not able to use it because you're on maternity leave for all or most of the year, your employer must allow you to carry it over.

If your contract gives you more holiday than the statutory amount, your employer may allow:

  • carrying over some into the next holiday year
  • payment instead ('in lieu') of taking it

Whether you carry over any holiday to the next holiday year could depend on how far through the current holiday year you are when you return to work after maternity leave.

For example, if you're going to take 6 months' maternity leave and will be returning to work with 1 month left of the holiday year, you should arrange with your employer to make sure you can take your holiday in that month.

If your employer does not allow you to take holiday

If your employer does not allow you to take your holiday entitlement because of your sex, pregnancy or maternity, it could be discrimination.

Find out more about discrimination

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